I have never understood the point of canned, chopped tomatoes. They rarely taste as good as their whole, peeled brethren, and they never break down fully while cooking, keeping their cube-like shape long after all other ingredients have turned to mush. The culprit? Calcium chloride.
The chemical compound is supposed to keep the tomatoes from turning to mush in the can, but it does its job a little too well. Maybe you want hot chunks of oddly firm tomato floating in your stews and sauces, but I do not—I want my tomatoes to melt and meld. (Take heed: Some whole tomatoes are also treated with calcium chloride, but it’s much easier to find those that are not. Just read the label.) Plus, using the whole, peeled guys means I only have to keep one type of tomato stocked. Take that, capitalism.
Chopping slippery, peeled plum tomatoes may seem like a messy task, but it’s actually easy to contain. Just take a pair of clean kitchen scissors, stick it directly into the can (as shown above), and chop the tomatoes to your desired dice size before adding them to your soup, stew, or sauce. If you desire chunks of discernible tomato, that is also achievable without calcium chloride. Simply reserve some of the tomatoes you chopped yourself, and add them a little later in the cooking process. They’ll be chunky, but not disquietingly firm, and your sauce will taste the better for it. (Want crushed tomatoes? Use your hands. It’s messy, yes, but oddly cathartic.)